Sunday 19th August 2018
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough run out of gas after promising start
Our regular readers will have spotted an earlier than usual start for us. Mrs M did. We decided to start a week early to get one more game in. Today we shared top billing in Farnborough Village with the Biggin Hill Air Show on an overcast day. At times we were noisier, but our aim was not always true when we had our opponents’ goals in our sights. More on that later. From a distance our pitch appeared to me to be showing the delineation of Stone Age archaeological remains that the dry summer has caused to be evident in fields and open spaces. On closer examination reconditioned drainage channels provided the explanation. We can all but hope they do their job this winter. Today’s opponents, STC Vets from Eltham, were an unknown quantity.
Back in the dressing room, Mick O’Flynn spoke of the importance of everyone doing their bit, taking the kit, sweeping up after games, helping with the nets, and in particular taking keys for the goal posts on the way out. That last bit fell on deaf ears, he might as well have been talking to himself.
Phil Anthony, Michael Hills, Patrice Mongelard, Colin Brazier;
Jay Hardy, Sinisa Gracanin, Waine Hetherington, Simon Thomas;
Peter Harvey, George Kleanthous.
Substitutes: Mick O’Flynn, Ian Lyons, Gordon Thompson, Obi Ugwumba.
Supporters: Ian Coles, Alan Fines, Danny and Ethan Mullins, Michael Ugwumba Jr.
Refereee: Paul “Play On” Parsons.
Director of Football: Mick(aldinho) O’Flynn.
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard.
First games of any season are never simple. We were missing a few players, including three centre halves and our European Golden Boot. Summer training has not been a success. Some players were a bit off the pace, others were just a year older and a stone heavier. I expect it was partly the same for the other team.
We made the better start. After ten minutes we had our first, and only, goal of the game. Jay Hardy won the ball in midfield before sliding a perfectly weighted pass into the path of Peter Harvey who advanced into the box and proceeded to guide a firm low shot into the bottom corner. That was a move straight out of the training ground you might say as Peter and Jay have been at training this summer more often than the rest of the squad put together. Or at least it feels that way. Our opponents were holding their own though and we had to be vigilant. They had revealed their secret weapon – a thirty-yard throw-in which we had reason to fear as the ensemble of our squad is vertically challenged you might think.
Should we have extended our lead? Yes, but could we? No. We could get behind the STC defence but final passes or finishes could have done with lubrication. On the half-hour we made the first changes as four players - Phil Anthony, Jay Hardy, Patrice Mongelard and Simon Thomas made way for the four substitutes. The rest of the half did not go so well for us. The STC long throws were causing us increasing difficulty – one rebounding off the post. With ten minutes of the first period left the inevitable happened. Matt Angelo came off his line to claim a high ball but could not get the desired contact, we were slow to react in our box and an STC midfielder running in, unfettered, swept the ball in from close range. There then followed two or three missed opportunities for us. They say there is no better time to score than just before half-time. Obi Ugwumba produced a deft touch for a big man to put Peter Harvey clean through on goal but Peter’s finish flashed wide of the post. Another miss to rue came from our Luka Modric impersonator, fellow countryman Sinisa Gracanin, usually technically precise, who guided a cushioned half volley inches wide after we had overrun the STC defence. Sini agreed with me that Luka would have done better.
As usual we had a lot to say at half-time. I was shoved out of the way with my bag of oranges so that I would not obstruct the sound waves of Peter Harvey’s analysis. Simon Thomas was back on for a pausing Waine Hetherington. We did not start the second half with the same aplomb as the first. Ten minutes in we fell behind. Our midfield looked pedestrian as STC carved their way through it. The ball was stopped on the edge of our box and a tall sinuous midfielder wrapped his left peg round the ball with power and precision to steer the sphere wide of Matt Angelo’s dive.
The last half-hour was eventful. After we had rung more changes we went to a back three of Phil Anthony, Ian Lyons and Patrice Mongelard – 170 years between them. That we did not concede owed much to the flying saves that Matt Angelo produced out of his locker to stifle premature cries of celebration by STC players. Should we have celebrated at the other end? Yes, but we could not. The best opportunity, a one on one, fell to George Kleanthous – usually deadly from close range but the STC keeper made himself big as they say, and even though George was on to the rebound in a flash he could not find the net. Peter Harvey had several shots to help keep the nettles down. Gordon Thompson instigated some promising moves. Waine Hetherington was back on for the last quarter of an hour (for the twice substituted Simon Thomas) but to no avail. STC had the points – it was not quite daylight robbery, more a gentle mugging which we asked for.
So, any positives from the game you might ask? A few – debutant Gordon Thompson’s football intelligence, Michael Hills’ prowess at centre half, Jay Hardy’s capacity for physical pain come to mind. The mood in the camp could be worse. Absentees today will be back over the coming weeks. Peter Harvey and George Kleanthous will bang them in.
The new buffet formula from Leanne MacDonald Catering Solutions was a great success – so much so that we have increased the order of crusty rolls by 33% for next Sunday. Thirty cheese and pickle, ham, tuna and sweet corn rolls and four packs of mini pasties, sausage rolls and cocktail sausages disappeared from view faster than a Red Arrows Flypast.
I made the mistake of taking my eye off my new moleskin A4 notebook which will be serving as the logbook for the season when I went to get a round of drinks. The most juvenile prankster in our midst quickly sketched a crude piece of naturalistic art in it, a sort of symbol of potency that we, or perhaps the Stone Age artist himself, lacked in front of goal.
We were joined in the bar by Blanchard père & fils. They had discovered there was no fuel in the club mowers – a fitting metaphor for our performance today I felt. Ian Coles was there too, providing moral support, of course. He used the word Spitfire but was not referring to the Air Show. Some wit said Ian had his best game for a while today. There is no denying the quality of the banter – now we need to improve the quality of the football. We have thirty-eight games left to do so this season.
Man of the match – Matt Angelo – forgiven for the goals we conceded because of two or three stupendous saves he made although some players felt he should have caught the balls in question. Michael Hills and Gordon Thompson were also on the podium.
Man of the match: Matt Angelo